Updated at 11 a.m., June 13 with details about the championship parade — For the first time in their 52-year history, the St. Louis Blues have hoisted the Stanley Cup.
The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 Wednesday night to secure their first-ever National Hockey League championship. When the final buzzer sounded, fans in St. Louis and elsewhere erupted in a long-awaited celebration, as the Blues mobbed their goaltender on the ice in Boston.
The city of St. Louis will honor the team with a parade and rally downtown along Market Street at noon on Saturday. The route starts at 18th Street and ends at Broadway. A rally will be held afterwards at the Gateway Arch.
The Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly scored the first goal of the night and was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the Stanley Cup playoffs’ Most Valuable Player. He is the second Blue to be named playoff MVP — goalie Glenn Hall won the award in 1968, even though the Blues lost the Cup that year to the Montreal Canadiens.
O’Reilly, like all Conn Smythe winners, will have his name engraved on the trophy. That he would be included alongside some of the greatest players in history was hard for him to imagine Wednesday night.
“You grow up and I remember pretending to be those guys, to be a part of that, to win the Stanley Cup,” O’Reilly said. “I still can’t believe this has happened. This is everything I’ve ever wanted in the game of hockey.”
Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford also scored goals for the Blues in the Game 7 contest. It was the 17th time in league history that the championship series went to seven games.
Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington set several team and league records this season, including winning his 16th playoff game on Wednesday night — a record among first-year goalies.
The game was played at TD Garden in Boston. But you wouldn’t have known it from the crowd reaction at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, where 19,000 fans watched the deciding match on the scoreboard. Blues fan Jessica Loaiza said she knew the night was going to be special even before she got to Enterprise Center with her family.
“Because we’re the Blues. They were going to do it,” she said. “We play well away, and we wanted it bad enough.”
The win capped a historic season for the Blues, who were playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1970. It was the Bruins who beat the Blues that year, on a famous overtime goal in Boston by Bobby Orr.
The championship means a lot to the many great players who have played for the Blues over the years but never won the Stanley Cup, said Bernie Federko, who was a star player for the team in the ‘70s and ‘80s and now appears as a commentator and analyst on local broadcasts of Blues games.
“We’ve wanted this for so long,” Federko said. “Everyone talks about 52 years, and all the guys that have put on a Blue Note know and understand how long that is. I think I’m just so proud of this team and what this team was able to accomplish. We’ve always been proud of the Blue Note, and now for it to be part of a Stanley Cup championship is just the most wonderful feeling there is.”
The Blues are the first team since the NHL expanded to 12 teams in 1967 to win the Stanley Cup after being last in the standings at least a third of the way through the season. The comeback was due in part to a franchise-record 11-game winning streak that lasted from Jan. 23 to Feb. 19.
The turnaround was especially sweet for Blues left winger Pat Maroon. The St. Louis native signed a one-year contract for less money then he could have gotten elsewhere to play in his hometown. Like his team, Maroon had a rough start. But his overtime goal, in Game 7 against Dallas, kept the season alive.
“It means the world to me to bring the Stanley Cup back to St. Louis, being from St. Louis, being a Blues fan all my life, to put this jersey on and be with the boys,” he said.
The city of St. Louis will honor Maroon, and the rest of the team, with a parade and rally on Saturday.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann
Nicolas Telep contributed reporting
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